Televised Party Leader Debate

Education and jobs were hot topics, when the leaders of Sweden’s political parties took part in a televised debate Sunday night.

Swedes vote for a new government in September, with the polls still giving the four party center-right opposition an edge over the Social Democrat government and its parliamentary allies.

Conservative Moderate leader Fredrik Reinfeldt, who would almost certainly be the new prime minister if the opposition wins the election, accused the government of dividing the country, suggesting that the key to fighting unemployment is reducing the number of people eligible for welfare benefits and work schemes.

Prime Minister Göran Persson countered by asking why the opposition wants to penalize the unemployed and the sick, by denying them benefits.

The opposition called for more support for private schools, while the government defended its policy of restricting grading to middle and secondary school.

Meanwhile, a new poll shows the opposition still leads the government and its allies, but the margin continues to shrink. According to the survey together the four opposition parties have the support of 50.6 percent of the voters, while the Social Democrats and their allies have risen to 45.8 percent.

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